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Share via Email Emma Cantrell, shocked at the cost of baby items. But how much do you really need to spend? More and more first-time mums are being encouraged to splash out on so-called "baby essentials", when many items are just gimmicks, says NetMums founder Siobhan Freegard.

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  • As the survey shows, almost three quarters of parents feel there is too much pressure on parents-to-be to buy, with a third of parents going over their budgets. It has a useful baby costs calculator at moneyadviceservice. It also warns parents about how easy it is to overspend. It quotes one young mother, Gina, who said: I did, but ended up not using half of it. Like the Moses basket, the baby bath and all the cute newborn outfits. Now I wish I'd saved my money and just bought a bagful of muslin squares and a few plain babygrows.

    Guardian Money spoke to six new mothers, some whom managed to keep the costs down to the hundreds — and others who splashed out thousands. We were aghast at the cost of baby things Emma Cantrell, 28, lives with her husband, Chris and children Joni, two, and Wilbur, one, in Wokingham, Berkshire. She is a full-time mum.

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    I didn't have a budget when I was pregnant with Joni — money wasn't as tight then, as it is now. But we didn't want to spend much. When we started looking we were aghast at the cost of baby things. I fell in love with a Bugaboo Chameleon — but nearly fell over at the price tag which was more than our car was worth. We didn't buy it. It was my best bargain.

    I got it for vanity reasons. It was in fashion — in all the baby magazines and websites. We were given the crib my husband and his sister had slept in — refurbished by my mother-in-law with Cath Kidston fabric. We had people coming out of the woodwork with car boots full of clothes.

    I only used it once as I found it quicker and easier to breastfeed. You almost felt that if your child wasn't in one, you were endangering their life — which is ridiculous. If it's on sale in the UK, it's been through rigorous tests. Manufacturers play on the "doesn't your child deserve the best?

    She worked in sales before she had her son Xavier 16 months ago. It's easy to spend nothing if you're willing to look carefully and hunt around. I started gathering stuff quite early on from Freecycle. I was quite happy to say how much I didn't spend. One mum I know spent well over a grand. I thought, I don't really care what brand I have. They're going nuts for them — saying they couldn't live without one. I got a little chair with a tray for a fiver from a car boot sale.

    I couldn't afford to be fussy. When you get the hand-me-downs you're so grateful because you're not paying for anything. But I'd do it all the same way again. My mum, brother and sister moved out of our family flat and my dad died.

    I was the only one left. I ended up getting in arrears because of the bedroom tax and I was in danger of homelessness. Then I got pregnant. My baby's father hasn't got any money, either. It comes 11 weeks before your due date. You can get most things with that. They gave me other items like a cot bed, Moses basket, car seat, changing mat and baby bath. They asked me if I needed a food parcel as well — which I did.

    The grant covered all the essentials and First Days topped me up any extra bits. But I didn't buy any fancy clothes. I bought a sleeping bag as everyone said they were useful but I haven't found a use for it yet. I'm still getting food parcels every couple of weeks. If First Days weren't there for me my life would be really difficult because I can't just fall back on my family. Her son, Theo, was born in July She lives with husband Chris.

    A cot that truly grows with baby to become a toddler bed and then a sofa Contemporary design with solid construction Straight-froward flat pack home assembly Available in white and dark wood finish to complement any style of nursery Silver Cross Nostalgia cot bed A traditionally styled wooden cot bed from a heritage brand Easily converts from cot to toddler bed for older children Three base positions allow the cot to grow with baby The base has a useful full-length pull out drawer with pewter-effect handles Baby-safe teething rails Age: Find out the safest place to put your baby's cot, and get more sleep safety tips in our expert video on baby sleep.

    The idea was to spend as little as possible while still giving Theo everything he really wanted. I like to spend very little money but appear like I've spent a lot.

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  • I've set up a new email address just for newsletters, discounts and offers. Whenever retailers are having a sale, I pick something up. I'd seen it in John Lewis and fallen in love with it. I couldn't believe my luck, and that started off my bargain hunting. I bought a feeding chair on Gumtree — it was almost brand new. When there was a "buy one get one half price" deal at Mothercare I stocked up.

    I bought end-of-season sale clothes in the bigger sizes. I do have some secondhand clothes but I much prefer new, bought in the sale. I take pride in my appearance and I take pride in my son's appearance. But they're my big cost saver as I never have to buy disposable ones — even if I have more children.

    My parents gave it to me.

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    But I got a free car seat as part of the deal. She lives with her daughter, Marni, six months, and partner, Darren, in London.

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  • I expected it to be expensive, but I didn't quite realise how much. It's amazing how quickly it all adds up without getting any extras.

    We were surprised by the hidden extras. A hidden cost that we hadn't considered. There is also the classes — we attend swimming lessons and baby sign language. But it all adds up. I couldn't be bothered to research it all because I was too busy at work. They show you everything you need in a two-hour slot, which then goes to an online list. I didn't want a Bugaboo like everyone had.

    It's the latest model and has the capacity to have two babies so I won't have to buy another. But it was too wintery. I ended up buying another two. I won't be spending that amount again when I have another baby.

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